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Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Posted by plumeriavine_2010 (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 19, 10 at 21:47

We had a tankless water heater installed in December.

The city signed off final inspection on the water heater but did not come to the job site for final.

We verified that the city inspector really signed off the permit as it was dated on a Saturday.

He said it was approved.

We paid the plumber for the job.

Now, we have learned that the tankless installation was very, very far away from being to code.

In fact, we have to repipe all the way to the street to have enough of a gas volume to be to code. This will cost THOUSANDS of dollars and landscape damage.

This is an outrage! We had a really good 2 tank hot water system with recirculating pumps and it worked great. We were talked into the tankless system to save money.

We now have to wait for the water to heat up for showers and washing hands, and we are exposed to a huge problem with repiping.

I am really speechless. We were really and truly ripped off.

Any suggestions? Sue the plumber? Sue the city? Sue Noritz? I am really hopping mad!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

I don't know, but I feel like deleting my post of only a few moments ago. Sheesh. My sympathies. Truly. Why does it seem as though we, as consumers, have to CONSTANTLY be fighting just to be treated fairly?!! All I can say is that I've learned with age to calmly stick up for myself and it does pay off. You just have to have the stomach for it and be tenacious. Go after them all, and good luck to you. Make sure you document, document, document everything. And if it comes to the point where you do have to hire a lawyer, some well-written letters should do the trick. Suing will just cost you lotsa more money.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

My general experience with inspectors is that it's a formality. They give a few seconds of looking and onward to the next job.

The number one requirement of hiring someone is to check out their reputation. The low bidder may or may not be the best choice, depending upon the work ethic of the person.

Usually family owned businesses, with a long history in the area are a good choice. You may pay a premium for that too.
That's not to say that a new guy isn't better.

If I was new to an area, it would be very hard to judge the character of a company, so I'd ask around and probably go for a family run company. Or I'd ask long-timers for a recommendation.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

baymee - we actually went with a family owned business with a long history in the community! We paid TOP DOLLAR for our installation. Because of their long history, they get permits signed off easily without a problem.

Ironically, it is another family owned business with a long history in the community who has helped us figure things out.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Does this mean your gas meter is out near the street? I thought that the gas is high-pressure up until the meter, in which case there shouldn't an issue of enough capacity for a tankless heater. This is just what I understood, I'm not a professional.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

You can't blame Noritz, they are clear about the requirements for their heater.

The problem is with the installer.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Cannot determine the State in which the problem occurred. In the State of NC, the installer of the piping would be on the hook for the whole problem. Contact the State licensing board.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

In the back of my mind, I was thinking that (negative aspects) about a family owned business. I guess I was thinking of family owned businesses in my area.


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Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

You all are right - - it is no fault of Noritz. I am just one sorrowful consumer. State contractor license board may have to be my next stop. Really feel bad that the city let me down again.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Caveat Emptor.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

> Now, we have learned that the tankless installation was
> very, very far away from being to code.
> In fact, we have to repipe all the way to the street to
> have enough of a gas volume to be to code.

What was not to code?
The gas volume requirement is for the product. The code and inspector will not assure you have a working product, only that the rules are followed. I would guess the rules on gas pipping only deal with over pressure and not under.

On the other hand wiring for a 40 AMP circuit to a 50 AMP oven would be a code violation. That would create a hazard because the oven would draw the 50 amps and heat up the wire.

Your problem probably does not create a hazard.

Sorry, I know it sucks. I have someone that said they could do accounting work and turned out didn't know the DB tax rules as they existed in 2008. Cost me $$$ and they are lying about everything.

I just posted in another thread. I think Consumer Reports found the costs of tankless may not pay back in savings. The main unplainned item was annual service calls like are done on a boiler/furnace, and expensive repairs.

You might have some luck in small claims court. Many states have laws to protect consumers in home remodel cases like this, Illinois does.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Man o man. I believe it about how the tankless is probably a wash at best, or, in my case, an expensive mistake, plus you have to spend extra $$ for a timer and a recirc pump if you have a long run from the tankless to your showers and don't want to waste minutes of water.

We are still calculating the damages from this.

Our old system was running fine, no problems. We were sold a big song and dance about it saving us $$.

The annual service can be accomplished by a homeowner, but, like everything, you have to be diligent about it.

Small claims court. . . hmmmm


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

What is the pressure in the line from the street? Is it possible to run it at a higher pressure, and regulate it down at the house end? Higher pressure would give you more capacity.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

I guess when its done right, its great, we have had tankless for about 8 years, and there is no waiting for the water to heat, its on demand, and always right there when I need it.
My husband installed it and I have no complaints..its gotta be either, a bad unit or the guy who installed.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

It's not only about a bad unit or the installation. It's about how cold your water is, how far the water has to go, the water flow.

We wait for quite awhile for the water to heat - don't like the cold sandwich in between. And ours are expensive heaters (note two - one was not enough).

Very expensive to purchase and install. We too were told how much of a savings it would be - but you pay one way or the other for these.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

"I would guess the rules on gas pipping only deal with over pressure and not under. "

No, the gas code requires the lines be sized for the load to be supported.

It sounds more like the installer did not bother to verify the volume the gas company could deliver.

They probably hooked up to the meter and assumed IT would meet the required volume.

Plumbers do not normally deal with the meter or sizing the lines feeding the meter unless they are doing the initial install.

Most systems use a higher distribution pressure and the meter then also contains a regulator to drop the gas pressure down after the meter.

You might talk to the gas company and see if they have any recommendations.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Extending brickeyee's suggestion, an alternative which would depend on the rules in your jurisdiction and the placement of the meter and pressure and capacity coming to the meter and it's regulator, is to go with a 2-pound hybrid system. These keep the current piping at the standard low pressure and add a second regulator that delivers 2psi gas to the water heater. They run 2-pound gas through soft copper lines, so they are relatively quick to install.

2-pound systems were popular in the DC area for houses that were not initially plumbed for natural gas, but were converted when the moratorium on new hookups ended. They were also popular for new long runs, to pool or hot tub heaters. There are special rules for 2-pound systems, but, according to the training I took they are just as safe as low pressure systems, if they are done properly.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

In our area all residential gas mains only have 8oz line pressure and there is no pressure reducers on the meter.

The code is very specific regarding the size of line based upon the total BTU load. That should have been figured out before any effort was made to install a tankless.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

"In our area all residential gas mains only have 8oz line pressure and there is no pressure reducers on the meter. "

Ouch.

Sounds like an old system that is not heavily loaded.

Around Northern Virgina Washington Gas raised their distribution pressure a few years ago, then had to replace every regulator.

Their contractor missed a single regulator and managed to blow an end unit town house up when they turned on the higher supply pressure with an old regulator.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

"Their contractor missed a single regulator and managed to blow an end unit town house up when they turned on the higher supply pressure with an old regulator."

Double ouch!

I think that the contractor and the city building code people both screwed up. The contractor is supposed to present a plan that works, and the people that issue the permit and inspector are supposed to be checks on that. All of them should know what size supply the water heater requires and compare that to what is available in the house. All of them should have come to the same conclusion, there will be a pressure droop when the water heater fires up. Not only will it not work, but it sounds dangerous to me! Can't this cause flame-out on this and on other appliances as well? Are your furnace or boiler, gas log fireplace, pool heater, etc. going to be happy when the pressure drops? Yes, there are safety devices, but this has to carry a higher risk of going "boom".


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

"All of them should know what size supply the water heater requires and compare that to what is available in the house."

The AHJ often has limited knowledge.

The code the AHJ enforces does not cover distribution equipment.

They do not control the gas company, and generally have almost non jurisdiction over them except after the meter.

It was solely the responsibility of the plumber adding the gas equipment to make sure everything would work.

That said, no one is going to tell the plumber to run a new gas service line.

that would be between you and the gas company.

The plumber can remove the equipment he installed, refund your money, and that is about all you are likely to get from him.

he did no9t purchase something that cannot work in your house due to factors beyond his control.

He may not have known it would not work either.
What would you have said if he had simply refused the work telling you the unit could not function with your supply line?

The only way it might be his responsibility is if he sold you the equipment.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Wow briceyee, you are telling me that building departments will tell you you can't do a plumbing job, with two bathrooms and the kitchen on the same 1.5" drain pipe, as proposed because the drains will overflow on the one hand. On the other hand, they will sign off on a project that piped a range, 150,000 BTU furnace, 50 gal water heater, 40 kW generator and dryer off of a single 1" gas line? My Chambers range pilot will flame-out and blow up the house!

If you say it is so, I will believe you, but it will scare me.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

The AHJ does not have detailed knowledge of the distribution system, sine the regular codes do NOT cover distribution equipment.

That does not mean they may not have SOME knowledge, just no that much.

Distribution equipment (including sewer mains) uses a different set of codes and rules.

The AHJ is not going to tell the POCO how to feed your house either.
It is up to you to make sure you have a service large enough for your needs.

Unless the plumber in question sold the OP the unit, he is probably liable only for the work he performed.

I would expect a court to order him to remove the work, restore the old system, and refund the money.
And nothing else.

He is not the one that purchased a piece of equipment his service could not supply.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

regarding the Alexandria Townhouse explosion: The story in the papers was that they thought they had isolated a segment of gas main and then did an (over)pressure test, only to have the townhouse blow up a bit later. To their credit, they declared right away that they thought they might have been responsible for the explosion. Also, I recall no one was hurt.

Separately, they may have raised the pressure in some of the Northern Virgina mains, necessitating new regulators, but, if they raised the pressure in my mains, they didn't replace the requlator -- mine looks to be as old as the house, 65 years. Now, the meter is new, and I had the impression they incorporated a separate regulator, but the regulator that comes first off the main is very old.

regarding ionized indicating that low pressure, due to undersized piping would lead to a Chambers range pilot blow out, and subsequent explosion: Can he explain how that works? Are Chambers range pilots different than other pilots and flow at rates high enough to lead to explosions.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

I was writing figuratively about the Chambers range. I used to have one, but it got Katrina'd. I don't have any gas appliances right now since the furnace was obsoleted by heat pump mini-splits in a replacement house last winter.

The Chambers had two pilots. One was in the Thermowell and one for the burners. The oven was manually-lighted. I shut off the top pilot because it created so much heat and manual lighting was easy. How can you rule-out an explosion for any rate pilot if a home is tightly-sealed?


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Ionized: I suspect there are circumstances where a pilot burner would flow enough gas to allow and explosion in a tight house. I don't know the values, but it could be calculated. On the other hand, we don't hear of too many houses blowing up because of pilot lights going out. The original case of this post was because of upgrading the burner input in going from tank to tankless. In this case, I think they'd notice right away if their pilots were going out. However, given the move to tankless, they possibly wouldn't have any pilots on their stove or furnace.

At first I thought this was all about bad piping, but then I looked up that Noritz has models with up to 380,000 btu input. If they got one of those really high input units, no wonder they have problems. Most houses wouldn't support that without re-piping.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

Sonofprim, if the gas regulator at your house is
65 years old, chances are good it has a few onces
of mercury in it. I'm just sayin.


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RE: Outrageous Tankless Rip-Off!!!!!!!

sonofprim, people love the look of those old ranges. So you are likely to find them in, otherwise, modern homes. I like the way they look, but not so much the way the work. As we do more than open pizza boxes in our kitchen. The emphasis is going to have to be on function rather than form.


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